Patrick Henry Chapter “President’s Campfire”

July is a time of celebration for our nation.  We celebrate our independence on the fourth of July every year commemorating the adoption of the “Declaration of Independence” by the Continental Congress in 1776 having declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and no longer a part of the British Empire.  Until that declaration was made on that day, the thirteen colonies were in essence conducting themselves as independent entities.  For the first time, they were united against a common tyrannical foe.

General George Washington became the Commander-in-Chief of the new united colonies’ Continental Army, but he was not uniformly supported by members of the Continental Congress for this command position nor even within his own officer ranks by some.  As today, there were those, who during turbulent times, have different ideas and thoughts regarding who should lead and what should be done. Several battles were fought and the untrained Continental Army did not fare well against the highly trained, well-armed British regular troops.

After the Battle of Brandywine near Philadelphia, PA, Washington’s Army marched into Valley Forge on December 19, 1777 for the winter.  Although the Continental Army did not win the Battle of Brandywine, they did acquit themselves admirably for the first time.  The Continental Army entered their winter encampment battle worn, hungry, and poorly clothed for the cold, wet weather, but hopeful.  It is said that Washington commented that he could follow his men’s trail to Valley Forge by the blood staining the snow.  Sickness would soon follow and many would die.

George Washington directed his officers to begin cutting trees to build cabins for shelter from the cold and wet weather.  To keep the morale of his soldiers high under sever duress, competition was encouraged between the units to see who could complete their cabins first.  It took about a month of hard work to complete the much needed cabins.  During this time and the months that followed, George Washington sent several requests to the Continental Congress requesting food, clothing and supplies, but to little avail.  The young Continental Congress was too busy discussing issues of the day through committee assignments.  He sent out soldiers to search for what food and supplies could be acquired.  The problem was that farmers were not prepared to provide for a Continental Army in excess of 10,000 soldiers.  To add to the problem, the Continental Army paid with almost worthless Continental Script, while the British paid the farmers with gold.  It was a very difficult time for the Continental Army.

George Washington was able to sustain the Continental Army at Valley Forge for six months through determination and the sacrifice of all.  British troops quickly moved out of Philadelphia, PA to reinforce their position in New York, NY when France entered into a pact with the United States of America.  This critical pact drastically changed the dynamics of the war.  The Continental Army marched out of Valley Forge on June 19, 1778 to follow the British troops and the rest is history.  As Compatriots, let us not forget our original heroic soldiers and honor their service to our country.  The soldiers at Valley Forge could only dream of the abundance we take for granted today, but their spirit will always be with us as we honor their bravery, strength and resolve!

How the D.C. Got in Washington, D.C.

 

How the D.C. Got in Washington, D.C.

In 1790, a year after George Washington took office as president, Congress authorized him to find a site along the Potomac River for the new nation’s capital. It was the first time a country had ever established its permanent capital by legislative action. The president ended up choosing a spot just a few miles upstream from his home at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

Surveyors staked out an area of one hundred square miles straddling the river. The idea was to create a special territory, not part of any state, to contain the capital city. The land came from Maryland and Virginia, and the territory was named the “District of Columbia” (“D.C.” for short) in honor of Christopher Columbus.

George Washington hired French engineer Pierre L’Enfant to plan the city that would lie within the new District. In 1791, the District’s commissioners decided to name that city “Washington” in honor of the first president. The federal government moved there in 1800.

L'Enfant_plan

On May 3, 1802, Washington was incorporated as a city, with a city council elected by local residents, and a mayor appointed by the president. People began to refer to the capital city inside the District of Columbia as “Washington, D.C.”—just as they might write “Albany, N.Y.” or “Charleston, S.C.”

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For a long time Washington remained a relatively small town, and much of the land inside the District of Columbia lay undeveloped. In 1846 Congress decided it would never need the District’s land on the south side of the Potomac River, so it returned that portion to the state of Virginia. But of course the city did eventually grow, especially after World War II. Today it fills virtually the entire District of Columbia.

his content is courtesy of The American Patriot’s Almanac

© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb

Hear Ye! : George Washington Quells Possible Military Overthrow of Congress

March 15, 1783: George Washington Quells Possible Military Overthrow of Congress

Imagine what would happen today if Congress was unable to provide the money to pay the salaries of our military personnel over a period of several years, requiring them to pay for all of their expenses out of their own pockets. What do you think would happen?

That’s exactly what happened during much of the Revolutionary War with Great Britain. The Continental Congress was not authorized to raise revenue to pay the army. Nor did they have the ability to provide much of the needed supplies for the army which just adds to the miracle of the American victory over a well-supplied and paid British army.

After the American victory in 1781, a large contingent of the army was kept ready until an official treaty of peace with the British could be settled and signed. Around 7,000 Americans troops, 500 women and children settled in a military camp near Newburgh, New York. The camp contained 600 huts and a large central building referred to as the Temple of Virtue, which was used for chapel services and other important meetings.

By early 1783, a number of the American officers were growing disgruntled with the Continental Congress for not living up to their promises of payment for service and reimbursement for what the officers and soldiers had paid out for their own food and clothing. Among the promises made by Congress was half pay for the rest of their lives, but as yet the officers had not seen a single payment.

In January, 1873, Major General Alexander McDougall led a delegation of officers who went to Philadelphia where they met with then Congressmen James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. McDougall and the officers not only expressed their grievances to the congressmen but they also shared some not so idle threats towards the Continental Congress.

Hamilton shared his concerns with General of the Army George Washington. He told Washington that he believed the situation could erupt into revolt or overthrow of Congress if not dealt with soon. Washington was not known for being an alarmist so he didn’t take any immediate action.

The situation with the officers impacted Hamilton to the point that he used it to help him argue for the formation of a strong federal government that had the power of taxation to raise revenue to pay a standing military and for other necessary purposes.

Washington understood the concerns of the officers at Newburgh, but when word reached him that there was talk of a military coup against Congress, he took action. He invited the officers to a meeting to be held on March 15 at the Temple of Virtue. Washington had sent a letter to the officers trying to urge them to be patient but telling them he would not be able to attend.

However, feeling the situation was growing more dangerous, Washington surprised the officers at the meeting when he showed up in person. Taking the floor, Washington tried to appeal to the honor of the officers, asking them not to throw away all they had fought for, but his words appeared to fall on deaf and hardened ears.

In a move worthy of a consummate actor, Washington then took a letter out of his jacket pocket and started to read it to the officers. He struggled through the first part and then stopped, reached into his jacket took out a pair of spectacles, telling the officers:

“Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.”

As Washington read the letter from Congress, the hardened hearts of the officers melted. Some of them were led to tears as their humbled commander continued to read the letter. Historians disagree on whether it was Washington’s speech, the letter from Congress or his humbling performance with his spectacles, but when the meeting ended, the threat of a military coup against Congress, known as the Newburgh Conspiracy, had been quelled by the same man who performed other miracles when commanding the American army against the British. Had it not been for George Washington’s intervention, America could have easily ended up as a military dictatorship or worse.

Just over a month later on April 19, 1783, America and Great Britain signed the treaty that officially ended the war. Most of the military went back to their homes. Some years later, the situation of the promised pay to the officers was somewhat settled.

Sources for the above includes: Newburgh Conspiracy; George Washington and the Newburgh Conspiracy; The Newburgh Conspiracy, December 1782-March1783; Washington puts an end to the Newburgh Conspiracy; The Last Crisis of the American Revolution; The Rise and Fall of the Newburgh Conspiracy.

 

 

 

From:  Constitution.com

Hear Ye! Washington Leaves Mt. Vernon for his Inauguration

April 16, 1789:

Washington Leaves Mt. Vernon for his Inauguration

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On this day in 1789, newly elected President George Washington leaves his Mount Vernon, Virginia, home and heads for New York, where he is sworn in as the first American president.

Before leaving, Washington addressed a group of citizens in nearby Alexandria, Virginia, to whom he expressed his inner conflict at assuming the role of president. He admitted that he would have preferred to stay in retirement and wondered aloud, “at my age what possible advantages [could I gain] from public life?” However, disturbed by growing antagonism between the fledgling nation s political factions, Washington felt duty-bound to help resolve what he feared was an impending crisis. He recounted the day in his diary: “I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity; and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express.”

Washington was 57 years old when he took leave of his family, friends and staff at the Mount Vernon estate, to which he had retired after leading the Continental Army to victory in the Revolutionary War. On his way to New York, citizens flocked to see Washington as he rode through petal-strewn streets, under decorative triumphal arches and to the accompaniment of church bells. In Trenton, New Jersey, girls in white robes sang an honorary tribute to “The Defender of the Mothers, The Protector of the Daughters.” In his diary, Washington recorded a resplendent display of decorated ships and boats that joined the procession as it sailed across the Hudson River. “The roar of cannon, and the loud acclamations of the people which rent the skies, as I passed along the wharves, filled my mind with sensations as painful as they are pleasing.”

The pomp and splendor of the procession did not distract Washington from his anxiety about ruling the country, nor the disappointment of traveling without his beloved wife and closest confidante, Martha, who planned to meet him in New York after the festivities ended. In addition, his oldest and most trusted personal servant, Billy Lee, had to abandon Washington s entourage in Philadelphia due to painful arthritis in his knees. Eight days after leaving Mt. Vernon, Washington arrived in New York, where he gamely set out to “render service to my country with less hope of answering its expectations.”

Official inaugural ceremonies commenced on April 30.

Information provided by History.com, A&E Networks, and a special thanks to Chapter Chaplain Max Miller for the info.